Are we ever done growing up?
Attempts in Flight is a coming of age story centered on the relationship between a mother and her queer child. Throughout the performance, we watch a young child mature into a young adult, eager to take on the world. The performance reminisces over the naiveté of youthful souls while lamenting the worries of more mature spirits.
Presented by Dai Bao Productions, Attempts in Flight is a multidisciplinary performance that uses music, poetry and movement to expound emotion. A cast of seven performers (Maureen Adelson, Tiernan Cornford, Sara Jarvie-Clark, Elsa Orme, Patrick Park, Catherine Preston, Cheyenne Schaub) play roles interchangeably, their oneness on-stage reflecting their strong collaborative writing style. Uniformly costumed in black and white, actors criss-crossed their way onto stage, a simple but effective choreography that would come to exemplify the harmony of the ensemble. The poetic chorus furthered this idea, chanting in unison, “like fibers in a single thread, we work as a whole.”
Much praise goes out to the show’s director, Alessandra Tom, who managed to create stunning visual landscapes throughout the entirety of the performance. Attempts in Flight opened on a stage set with nine evenly-spaced out cubes. The plain, wooden boxes were frequently rearranged, artfully repurposed throughout the show to function as barriers and bridges, exemplifying both separation and cooperation.
Technical effects were cleverly implemented in real time by the actors, using props, flashlights, and their bodies to dress the set. Some of the most aesthetic moments of this performance involved shadow casting, enchantingly carried out through draped sheets and jars of water. Besides bringing about engaging visuals, the way the actors played with the lights was a thoughtful way to demonstrate alternate perspectives on one same matter.
Repetition of movement tied together different characters and scenes. Though having multiple performers play the same character at first was confusing, the potent unity of their movement and action allowed performers to freely switch in and out of various roles.
Similarly, the music in Attempts in Flight brought the performers together. The ensemble created a charming arrangement of harmony that paralleled the characters’ connections to each other. A violin, guitar, double-bass, and seven voices filled the venue, rhythmically punctuating the plot.
The highlight of the performance was an upbeat, jazzy number performed by Patrick Park. In this song, a teenager remembers the details of his first crush: excitement, tension, jitters and all. Park expertly emanates the young man’s budding emotions, throwing the audience back to the beguiling energy Young Love’s ‘firsts.’ Besides being vocally talented, Park’s acting skilfully incorporated emotional nuance that gave his character dimension, and made for an engrossing and lively performance.
Attempts in Flight doesn’t wrap up conclusively––though that’s not to say that its ending wasn’t satisfying. On the contrary, the audience is left much like the child who needs to learn to grow: uncertain of what the future holds. They resolved with the powerful visual of a scattered ensemble finding their way back to each other.
As the wooden cubes were brought back to center-stage, the show’s original image of isolation morphed into an extraordinary picture of unison and support.
Dai Bao Productions presents “Attempts in Flight”
at the 29th St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival
Performances: June 6 – 16, 2019
Venue: 06 – MainLine Theatre
3997 Saint-Laurent, Montréal, H2W 1Y4
Admission: $9 – 12 | Ages 12+
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